I live with chronic anxiety. Therefore, when I interact with my therapist or my psychiatrist, inevitably sometimes I am anxious. What happens next makes me feel uncomfortable. I feel "annoying" when my anxiety comes out to play. Anxiety doesn't care that it is urging me to consistently following up with my treatment team

Anxiety: You called your psychiatrist and it's been three hours. He hasn't gotten back to you. You should call him again.

Me: No, he'll think I'm annoying. I don't want to do that. What if he doesn't want me to be his patient anymore or what if he refuses to answer my question because I've asked too many questions?

This is something anxiety tells me when I am tempted to check in repeatedly with one of my mental health professionals that I'm seeing. The thought isn't helpful and just makes me feel annoying. In reality, I'm not "annoying," but rather I live with chronic anxiety which sometimes prompts me to act impulsively. I'm aware that this can frustrate my therapist or my psychiatrist, however here's an alternate perspective: maybe it doesn't annoy them. Maybe they're used to dealing with people who have anxiety and therefore they aren't surprised by my behavior. 

I don't need to feel guilty because I feel anxious and as a result act on that anxiety. There's nothing "wrong" with me, I'm anxious and I'm letting you (my practitioner) know that I am trying to manage this anxiety and it's hard for me. My anxious behavior can also be a sign that something needs to shift in my therapy or my medication regimen.

Anxiety isn't a "bad" thing, but rather a warning sign that something needs to change. Whether that change is in you or in the relationship between you and your clinician is up to both of you to figure out. However, your anxious feelings are as real as the feeling that your two feet are standing on the ground. 

I want to impress upon you the idea of having a strong connection with your therapist or psychiatrist. This way, when anxiety takes hold, you don't feel like you are burdening that person because you're not. A good therapist will understand your feelings because they are trained to deal with them. When you're searching for a therapist read online therapy reviews to see who you're going to get before you even set foot in that office. In this way, your anxiety will be alleviated before you set foot in that clinicians' door. 

Here is a message to all my anxious people out there: it's not your fault that you have anxiety. Anxiety was brought to you mysteriously and now you have to cope with it. You will develop the tools to cope with your anxious feelings. Your therapist and/or your psychiatrist is going to help you do this and you are NOT annoying them. And if those people make you feel as if you ARE annoying them, then maybe they aren't the right match for you.

Another thing that you could do is say "I feel like I am annoying you" to your clinician. It's honest and maybe it will create a dialogue where you can work through your anxiety.

Anxiety is annoying, you aren't, and let's find a way for you to feel better about yourself despite whether you are anxious or not. 

Unsplash 2017
Source: Unsplash 2017

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